Mayo on Juice and Bone Health

February 21/Rochester, Minn./Professional Services Close-Up -- Mayo Clinic highlights the benefits of juicing fruits and vegetables and offers tips for bone health in its February issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter.

Fruit and vegetable juices have many health benefits, but no convincing evidence indicates that "juicing" is healthier than eating whole fruits and vegetables, according to the article.

Juicing involves using an appliance to turn raw fruits and vegetables into liquid. Swigging liquid produce from a cup can be tasty and healthful, but some claims made by juicing proponents are far-fetched.

The Mayo Clinic noted that its Health Letter covers juicing claims that do not stand up to scrutiny. Some of those claims and the corresponding facts are:

- The body absorbs more nutrients from juice -- The theory here is that fiber, often filtered out of juice, is too taxing on the digestive system, and that fiber impairs digestion of fruit and vegetable nutrients. The opposite is true. The digestive system needs fiber to function properly and to remain healthy.

- Juices help cleanse toxins from the body -- No convincing evidence supports this claim. The liver and kidneys efficiently process and eliminate toxins.

- Juicing helps with weight loss -- Weight loss (or gain) is about calories consumed and burned. Homemade juices can have high amounts of natural sugars and surprisingly high calorie counts.

- Juicing is economical -- Juicing machines can cost $30-300. For frequent juice drinkers, the cost of juicing at home may be lower over time than purchasing 100% juice. However, grocery costs can increase because of the volume of produce needed to make juice. The most economical approach may be to consume whole fruits and vegetables.

With all the health concerns associated with aging, a broken bone may not seem so worrisome. However, a bone fracture later in life can mean the end of mobility and independence, according to Mayo Clinic Health Letter.

One in four people who experiences a hip fracture requires skilled care for at least a year after the injury. In older adults, a hip fracture increases the chance of death within a year by up to 20%.

"Bone up on bone health," an eight-page supplement to the February issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter, offers practical steps to maintain strong bones. Highlights from the overview include:

Calcium: Getting adequate calcium and vitamin D reduces bone loss that occurs with age. About 99% of calcium in the body is in the bones and teeth. Calcium also is needed in the bloodstream to fulfill essential body functions. When calcium consumption is inadequate, the body taps calcium reserves in the bones, and bone density levels decrease.

Vitamin D: Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption. Over time, vitamin D deficiency results in abnormal bone loss. Ultraviolet radiation from the sun stimulates the skin to make vitamin D. Spending 15-20 minutes in the sun two to three times a week is generally considered adequate, but Mayo Clinic dermatologists say food and supplements are safer sources of vitamin D.

Tobacco and alcohol: Smoking increases the rate of bone loss. And regularly drinking more than a moderate amount of alcohol can hasten bone loss and reduce the ability to absorb calcium. A moderate level is considered no more than two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women.

From the March 7, 2011, Prepared Foods E-dition